Happily Ever After: A Companion to ONCE UPON A TIME by starbeamz2
Summary: While Laurel and Brian work out their differences to come together, Bryna and Nick, too, must overcome their pride, reluctance, and doubts to find true love in the big, bad world.
Categories: Fanfiction > Backstreet Boys Characters: Nick
Genres: Alternate Universe, Drama, Romance
Warnings: None
Challenges:
Series: None
Chapters: 2 Completed: No Word count: 3561 Read: 2385 Published: 01/01/08 Updated: 01/17/08
Story Notes:

"Oh, my god, I'm back again!" LOL I know some of you felt a little jipped at the end of Once Upon a Time because I never fully fleshed out the story line between Bryna and Nick. Fortunately for all of you, here's their story in full detail!

If you haven't read Once Upon a Time and want to get caught up on how Nick and Bryna started off, make sure to read OUAT!

1. In Pieces by starbeamz2

2. Unsuspecting Sunday Afternoon by starbeamz2

In Pieces by starbeamz2
There was a whirl of commotion, of questions and camera flashes as everyone clamored to try to get a glimpse, a piece of the woman all had thought dead and gone for years.  Laurel Caine, the rightful heir to an enormously lucrative film production company, had re-emerged from the depths her stepmother had pushed her to and had claimed her place as the company’s chairperson.  

Of course, Nick Carter thought as he watched from a safe distance, there was quite a bit of legal business that Laurel was going to have to work through before she established herself as Starlight Productions’ chairperson.  Whatever happened, though, she was already well on her way to keeping the company from falling apart and being taken over by other companies.  Her stepmother’s plans had been destroyed, and he figured Laurel’s cousin, Kristin Richardson, was more than thrilled with it all.

He could see Kristin throw her arms around Laurel as the reporters that had been present at the Apollo Records gala pushed and shoved their way to get the first exclusive comments from Laurel’s mouth.  Jason Chambers, her stepbrother, stood resolutely by her side as well, and Laurel’s once-estranged stepsister, Theresa, flanked him as well.  They were a united wall, he thought and figured no one could be more lucky than Laurel Caine at that moment.

But where, he wondered, had Laurel’s best friend and other stepsister disappeared off to? His dark blue eyes scanned the crowds of people in the ballroom and spotted her sitting at a table quite a distance away.  His brow furrowed as he made his way through people, skirted around tables and chairs, and headed towards her.  

Nick wasn’t entirely sure why he was on his way to check on Bryna Chambers, other than the fact that they were cautious friends.  He had a feeling she thought of him as more than that, and he too had entertained the idea of becoming her lover.  He had been working his way to it over the past month or so by taking her out to dinner, to the movies, and spending more time with her in that one month than he had in the nearly twenty years since he’d known her.  

The only thing that was stopping him, he knew, from taking her to bed was the fact that she would undoubtedly want more from him than just sex.  Women like Bryna always did.

Telling himself not to dwell on that, he stopped at her table and studied her face.  Her auburn hair was curled into an elegant up-do, though several curls had escaped to flutter around her face and into her big brown eyes.  Eyes, Nick thought, that were currently troubled.

“Penny for your thoughts,” he said as he took a seat next to her.

Bryna didn’t glance his way but lifted a shoulder to acknowledge his comment.  “I have none.”

“Really? I thought you would have more to say about the fact that Laurel is finally out in the open, that your mom has no authority over Starlight, and so on.  Isn’t that what you were waiting for?”

She shrugged again.  “It feels different now that I’ve gotten what I wanted.”

Nick didn’t know what to say to that, so they lapsed into silence.  They watched as officers from the NYPD showed up, as Laurel was taken aside to speak to them, as Leighanne Wallace, the hostess of the gala, ended the evening’s program graciously.  People didn’t exactly leave quickly, not wanting to miss a second of excitement.  Fortunately, security quickly cleared the room until only the police and Apollo Records’ executives were left in the room.

Without a word, Bryna stood and, gathering her long skirt in one hand to keep it from getting in her way, walked out of the ballroom.  Nick hesitated for a moment, glancing over his shoulder to where Jason and Theresa were throwing worried glances at their sister’s retreating back, before he rushed after her.

He caught up with her as she shoved through the main doors and stalked out onto the busy streets of New York City.  Seeing the set look on her face, he didn’t bother touching her.  “Bryna, tell me what’s wrong,” he said instead.

She didn’t know what was wrong.  Bryna ignored the passersby that stared curiously at her formal gown and the scowl on her face.  She only knew she had to keep moving.  If she didn’t move, she might just break down, fall apart.  There was no reason for her to feel this way, she told herself.  Things were finally looking up, but she felt more unsettled than ever.  

Having Nick Carter by her side was not helping her any either.  He was, after all, the man she’d loved for nearly half her life and been ignored by for just as long.  Now, suddenly, he wanted to know what was wrong with her?

“What the hell’s wrong with you?” she shot back at him, stopping suddenly in the middle of the sidewalk.  The doorman stationed nearby looked nervously at the two of them; Bryna, angry, and Nick, plainly confused.

Nick had nearly run right into her when she’d abruptly stopped.  Now, he was downright baffled by her sudden burst of anger.  “Huh? Why are you mad at me? I’m just trying to help.  You’re obviously not okay, and I just want to make sure you will be.  I am not the bad guy here.”

She nearly smacked him.  Her arm had lifted to do it, but she controlled her irrational temper.  He was right, she thought with a sigh, her anger instantly deflated.  He was just trying to help, and her careening emotions had just blasted him.  “I’m sorry.  God, I’m sorry.  I just don’t know how to feel or what I feel.”

She looked miserable again, and Nick nearly reached out to gather her close.  Then, he remembered her lightning quick mood changes and decided not to.  “Tell me what’s wrong.  Something’s bothering you, and I really do want to help.”

Bryna looked up at him, her eyes sad.  “Why, Nick? Why do you want to help me? You’ve barely acknowledged my presence this week.”

“That’s not true.” Entirely, he thought.  Hell.  She was right.  He’d kissed her then walked away.  He could only imagine how she must have felt after that stellar move on his part.  “Okay, maybe it is.  Look, I’m sorry about that, but I don’t like seeing you so sad.  Tell me why you’re blue.”

She sighed heavily and began to walk again, barely acknowledging when Nick fell in step with her.  “When I was little, my mother was my role model.” She didn’t react when he muttered under his breath about Clarissa Chambers-Caine.  “Yeah, I know it’s hard to believe, but, before I turned thirteen and saw her for the monster she is, I thought she was perfect, infallible.  She was strong, smart, determined, and went after what she wanted with a vengeance.  I always wanted to be like her, and I tried so hard to be that way.  Until, of course, I realized that she wasn’t perfect, that she was definitely fallible.”

“It happens, Bryna.  It’s not your fault that your role model turned out to be the wickedest witch of the west.” Nick took a chance and took her hand in his.  When she didn’t tug it away, he squeezed it comfortingly.  

“Either way, she was my mother, too.  As happy as I am for Laurel, as thrilled I am that my mother no longer has control over all of our lives, she’s still my mother.  She’s still the woman that gave birth to me, that bandaged my wounds, that raised me and helped me learn to stand on my own two feet.” Bryna winced at the blast of a car horn nearby and shook her head.  “I loved her, Nick, for all of that.  Even when she made me so angry and so miserable, I loved her.”

Nick nodded, understanding.  His mother hadn’t exactly been the best example of a good mom.  “It’s hard to see why or how we can still love them when they’re so terrible, but you just can’t pick who you love.  I’m sorry that your mother turned out to be pretty awful.”

“Me, too,” she murmured and gripped his hand for support.  She didn’t want to cry, but the tears were welling up inside of her.  “When I saw her standing there with Laurel confronting her, I realized that, no matter what hideous acts she’s committed, she’s still my mother, and I still love her.  Part of me wanted to rush to her side to support her, to tell her that, despite all the charges that are sure to be brought against her, I still love her.  She would’ve swatted me aside for sure,” she added with a watery laugh.  “That woman is all business.”

He slid his arm around her shoulders as they crossed yet another busy Manhattan street.  “For what it’s worth, I’m sorry all of this hurts you this way.”

“Thanks,” she said after a moment.  “I guess it wouldn’t have been such a bright move to defend her against Laurel, especially since I was the one who pushed Laurel to come out from hiding and make her stand.  I figured it was better if I just stayed to the side.” She stopped under a streetlight and turned to look up at him.  “Thanks for listening to me, Nick.  I know I must sound and look like a wreck-”

“You don’t,” he interrupted her.  “You look beautiful, and you sound like a sane person with some troubles.  Nothing wrong with that.”

Bryna’s brows shot up.  It was a rare day that Nick commented on her looks, and, even then, he’d never referred to her as beautiful.  “Well,” was all she could say.

Nick squeezed her hand.  “I think you should go home and get some rest.  It’s been a night for the books.”

“Definitely,” she murmured and watched as he lifted a hand to wave down a taxi.  When one slowed to a stop at the curb, she smiled up at him.  “Thanks for all this, Nick.”

“It’s not a problem,” he told her before gathering her up in a hug.  He felt her stiffen in surprise and thought, If you’re surprised now, Bryna, prepare to be swept off your feet.  Stepping back, he smiled down at her and nudged her into the cab.  “I hope you’ll feel better in the morning.”

“Me, too,” Bryna replied and slid into the taxi.  “Bye, Nick.”

He lifted a hand in a wave as the cab pulled into traffic and drove off.  He hadn’t been sure what to do with Bryna before tonight, but now he was sure.  He wanted her, and, though he was commitment-phobic, he was willing to risk it.  It had been, well, never since he’d wanted a woman the way he wanted Bryna.  Maybe he’d known her all his life, but he’d never quite seen her.  Now that he was, he was discovering that there was more to her than the confident, extremely talented and successful music producer that she was.  She was sensitive, generous, and cared—sometimes too much.

Nick was quickly realizing that she was everything he’d never quite known he wanted.  Now that he knew, he was going to do whatever it took to have her and, maybe, if he was lucky, hold onto her.
Unsuspecting Sunday Afternoon by starbeamz2
Author's Notes:

Ta-da! Next chapter! And, if you're at all curious about what happened before this story began, you can check out "Once Upon a Time" which is the story that this one is based off of. 

Enjoy this next chapter and let me know what you think!

Nick slouched in his comfortably worn couch and barely glanced at the television that blared at him.  He had no idea what was on, what channel was playing, and he had no intention of finding out either.  His attention was on the pile of paperwork in front of him—though his focus tended to slide towards Bryna and what she was up to.

It had been two days since the Apollo Records gala, and he hadn’t heard a word from her.  He’d heard plenty about Laurel and what was happening now that she was back.  Apparently, she was moving back into the Caine mansion outside the city, and Clarissa was moving out.  There was a huge media flurry over the goings-on, but, suspiciously, Bryna was missing from all the press reports.

He would know, Nick thought with a sigh.  He’d searched through every single one, hoping to find out how she was.  His efforts were all to no avail.

Shaking his head, he set aside the stack of papers, knowing he’d never be able to concentrate.  He needed to do something.  Maybe he could go out, he mused and glanced out the windows of his apartment.  A gray, gloomy sky greeted him, and he shook his head.  Nah. He’d rather not brave the rain pelting down from the iron-gray clouds.

He was in the kitchen, rooting through his fridge for a snack, when the phone rang.  Crunching on a piece of celery, he reached for the receiver.  “Talk to me.”

“My, do you always answer every call like that?” The female voice on the other end was amused.

“Laurel?”

“Actually, that’s Cinderella to you, buddy,” she replied lightly, making fun of the nickname the media had bestowed upon her.  “But, yes, it’s me.  How are you, Nick?”

He kicked the fridge door shut with his foot and moved to lean against a counter.  “Not bad.  I don’t think I have to ask how you’re doing.  I’ve seen the news reports.”

“Yeah, well, they’re mostly true.  I’m actually on my way over to the estate now.” She sighed a little.  “Have you heard from Brian at all? Or James?”

Nick grimaced.  “Sorry, Laurel.  I know both of them were pretty upset, and, knowing them, they need time to think.”

“So I’m supposed to play the waiting game?”

“Don’t tell me you deserve better after what you did to them,” he snapped.  Then, he thought better of it and sighed.  “Sorry, I didn’t mean to-”

“No, Nick, you’re right.  I was wrong, and I hurt them both.” There was a pause before Laurel spoke again.  “Listen, I was wondering…”

Nick tossed out the remains of the carrot and opened his fridge to find something to drink.  “What?”

“I know she’ll kill me for this, but I was wondering if you could keep Bryna company today.”

“What?!” He froze.

“I know it sounds kind of crazy, but I think you’re the only one she’s really talked to since everything went down the other night.  She’s holed up in her apartment, and she won’t talk to any of us.  It would be a huge help if you could just go over and, I don’t know, get her to open up,” Laurel said in a rush.  “Well?”

He was quiet for a few moments, contemplating his decision.  He did want to see Bryna, and Laurel was providing him with the perfect excuse to see her.  Then again, Bryna might feel hemmed in if he hovered over her.  He’d never exactly paid quite so much attention to her before.  “I’ll do it,” he replied quickly, squelching his doubts.

***

Bryna snarled at the sound of the knock on the door.  She didn’t want to move from her position on the couch, but, grumbling to herself, she dragged herself off the couch and opened the door.

Nick decided the look on her face had been worth the trip across town to see her.  He grinned at her surprised expression and held up his offerings.  Two spoons, a carton of Rocky Road ice cream, and the latest cheesy horror flick from Hollywood.  “Hi.”

She blinked.  “What are you doing here?”

“What? I couldn’t come keep you company?” he asked, feigning hurt.  “I thought we were friends, Bryna.  Don’t you like me?”

Bryna scowled a little, but her gaze kept sliding towards the ice cream.  “How did you know Rocky Road was my favorite?”

“Bryna, Bryna, Bryna.  I know a lot about you. Probably more than you think,” he added with a wiggle of his brows.  “So, are you going to let me in or should I stand out here with melting ice cream?”

Her scowl deepened, but she shrugged and gestured him in.  “How did you know I’d be here?”

“A wild guess,” he answered and settled in next to her on her couch.  “Have you been hiding out here?”

Bryna grabbed the carton of ice cream away from him and pulled the lid off.  “No.” She paused, her spoon poised above the ice cream.  Her eyes lifted to meet his.  “Okay, maybe.  But I don’t want to talk about it.”

Nick nodded.  He had no desire to push her into anything more than she was willing to give him.  He’d been thinking long and hard about how to approach her, and he knew that he’d have to tread carefully with Bryna.  More so because he genuinely cared about her.  “Okay.  So, wanna watch this slasher flick now?” He waved the DVD in her face and grinned when she rolled her eyes.

“Is that seriously the best you could come up with? Honestly, I planned on never watching that one.”

He grinned and hopped up to stick the disc into her DVD player.  “You know what they say, Bryna?”

Her voice was muffled by the ice cream in her mouth.  “No.  Whad do dey shay?”

He plopped down next to her again with the remote.  Ignoring her yelp of protest, he stole the ice cream and, taking a bite, pressed play.  “Never say never.”

Two hours later, the movie ended, and Bryna groaned.

“It was as bad as I thought it would be.  Not at all scary.”

Nick grinned.  She’d watched half of it from between her fingers.  “Really? Then that must have been some other Bryna Chambers that nearly strangled me when the guy was about to grab that blonde chick.  Right?” He winked.

She threw a pillow at him.  “Jerk.  You’re supposed to act manly and like when a girl does that.”

“Who said I didn’t like it?” He wiggled his brows at her playfully.  “ ‘Oh, my god, Nick! He’s going to kill her! Oh, I can’t watch it. Tell me when it’s over!’”

His laughter was muffled when she pounced on him in indignation.  They wrestled for control for a minute or so before tumbling off the couch and onto the floor.  Bryna rolled off him and lay close by his side, her head resting on his arm.  Nick could see the glow of pleasure in her eyes and smiled.

“Who won?” she murmured.

“Me, of course,” he answered with a cocky grin.  He was fully expecting the resulting jab to his side.  “Oof. How did I miss the fact that you are so violent?  I mean, I’ve known you for years, and this is a side of you I never saw.”

Bryna grinned.  “And you were the one who said you knew more about me than I thought.”

Nick’s smile disappeared as he reached out to carefully brush aside a curl that fell over her forehead.  “I do,” he whispered.  Her breath suddenly fluttered shakily from her lips, and he felt it slide over his skin.  “More than you know.”

She shifted slightly closer, her eyes wary.  “Nick.” Her voice was a breathy murmur.

Though his stomach tightened at the sound of her voice, he knew this wasn’t how he wanted to do things.  She wasn’t ready yet.  Without warning, he leapt up and pulled her up with him.  “Let’s go for a walk.”

Bryna’s eyes widened in surprise and confusion.  “Wait, what?”

“Wanna go for a walk, Bryna?” Nick knew she was puzzled over his actions, but he liked the idea of keeping her off-balance.  Unpredictable.  He held out a hand and gave her a questioning look.  “Well?”

She cast a glance at her clothing before shrugging.  “Okay.” But she didn’t take his hand.

They walked in comfortable silence for several blocks. The city was blooming in late spring, and plenty of people were out and about, despite the threat of impending rain.  Nick glanced up at the sky and hoped the rain held off until they were back inside.  Though the atmosphere was gloomy, it was hard to feel the dreariness in New York.  With everyone rushing around, it was as though the overcast sky didn’t exist.

“I miss smelling that just before rain smell,” Bryna said after a while.

Nick looked over at her.  “What?”

“What, you haven’t noticed it? You can’t smell it in the city, but, outside the city, you can always smell this distinct scent that comes along before it rains.  I always know when rain is coming because of it.” She shrugged.  “The city smells overpower that one, I guess.”

He didn’t have any suitable response for that.  “Uh, I guess I really didn’t notice.  I’ll have to remember the next time I’m out of this place.”

They fell silent again, each enjoying the walk more than they’d expected.  When they arrived back in front of Bryna’s building, Nick stopped outside.

“Well, this is my cue to let you go,” he told her with a smile.  “I liked hanging out with you.”

Bryna nodded, her eyes skimming over his face as though she were searching for something.  “Thanks for coming over, Nick.  Seriously.  I guess I needed it more than I thought.”

“Anytime, Bryna.” He tentatively put his arms around her and squeezed gently.  “Call me if you need anything,” he murmured against her neck.  He nearly smiled at feeling her pulse race but said nothing.

She stepped back, her arms automatically folding over her chest.  “Yeah, okay.  I will.”

Then, as she watched, Nick flashed her a grin before turning to hail a cab.  The first raindrop hit the windshield as he watched her walk into her building.  

“Just you wait, Bryna.  There’s plenty more where that came from,” he whispered to himself with a smile. 
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